Perfectly Preserved Lemons

It’s that time of year again, lemon trees in gardens all over town are laden with their bright sunny fruit! If you, like myself, are lucky enough to have a gloriously full lemon tree, or perhaps a neighbour that does, chances are you’ll be looking for a recipe or two to use up those extra lemons.

Preserved lemons are used quite extensively in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisines. Slice them up and add them to tagines, rice dishes and even roast chicken. They add a magnificent salty, citrus pop to so many recipes.

I have a Meyer lemon tree and these are perfect for preserving as they are thin skinned and although they are impressively tart, they are less sour than other varieties. Most recipes suggest the use of Meyer lemons, however any lemons you have will do just fine. When using your preserved lemons use caution at first, if you are using a thicker skinned, more pithy variety of lemon they will be a bit more bitter.

This is a good recipe for when you are making something that uses lemon zest but not juice, as it calls for the juice of 3 lemons in addition to the lemons you’re preserving.


6 ripe lemons
juice of 3 lemons
⅔ cup good quality sea salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 fresh bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1L preserving jar


1. To sterilise your jar, preheat the oven to 200°c. Give the jar a good wash in hot & soapy water, rise and place upside down in the oven until completely dry. Remove and allow to cool.

2. Wash the lemons well in cold water. Slice them into quarters lengthways, leaving the last 2 cm uncut so the quarters stay attached. Fill each lemon with a tablespoon of the salt and then pack them into the jar, adding the bay leaves, pieces of the cinnamon stick and coriander seeds as you go.

How to cut lemons

3. Sprinkle with remaining salt and top up the jar with the additional lemon juice. Seal the jar and store in the fridge for 6 weeks, your lemons will then be preserved and ready to use.


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